Pressure Mounts on UK’s Johnson as Senior Aide Reportedly Attended Rule-Breaking Party

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
December 10, 2021 Updated: December 10, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under increased pressure as his chief press officer is reported to have attended a lockdown-breaking Christmas party last year.

Johnson has been attempting to move on from the crisis sparked by allegations that a Christmas party was held in Downing Street on Dec. 18, 2020, when indoor socialising was banned under COVID-19 restrictions.

On Wednesday, the prime minister ordered Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations, and senior aide Allegra Stratton resigned after a video emerged showing her joking about the alleged gathering.

But according to an ITV News report on Thursday, Johnson’s director of communications Jack Doyle, who was deputy director at the time, attended the party, at which he made a speech to up to 50 people and handed out awards.

Downing Street told the PA news agency that they refused to comment further other than to say a fact-finding review was ongoing.

The main opposition Labour party said the new revelation exposed the government’s internal investigation as a mere “sham.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “The investigation has only just published its terms of reference and we are already seeing more details from the media than the Cabinet Office about the parties.”

Separately, Johnson is also facing fresh questions over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat after the Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party on Thursday for failing to report relevant donations properly.

Labour accused Johnson of having “lied” to his standards adviser Christopher Geidt by saying he did not know who was behind the payment.

On Thursday night, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer wrote on Twitter: “Boris Johnson is unfit to lead our country.”

In an interview with The Telegraph, Starmer suggested that Conservative MPs should now oust Johnson from Downing Street.

He asked ministers and Tory MPs if they are “prepared to endure the next two years of increased degradation of themselves and their party, being put out to defend the indefensible and bringing themselves and their party into further disrepute.”

Conservative MPs are already openly expressing anger and demanding explanations from the prime minister.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who is treasurer of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said on Thursday that Johnson needs to “get a grip” on all these issues.

“What we need from all of this is a really straightforward version from the prime minister on all of these serious issues,” he told BBC’s Newsnight. “All of these things need to be investigated and the truth must come out.”

PA contributed to this report.